This newspaper article by Dick Sybert was originally published in The New Rainier Review on Wednesday, February 12, 1997. I originally posted it on my website on June 1, 2005; I had very closely replicated the original layout of the article, but it didn’t translate into this new format.
Wednesday, February 12, 1997
"Smalltown, USA" features a Sentry Market and a Rambo's Hobby Shop. Cliff West of Rainier and Kerry King of Castle Rock, members of the Kelso-Longview & Rainier Model Railroad Club, built many of the town's structures. The club is sponsoring this weekend's model railroad display in the Triangle Mall. The K-L & R RR will be one of the operating layouts. Photo by Dick Sybert
Model railroads on display at Triangle
'Choo-choos' charm young and old alike
By Dick Sybert
Railroaders from Rainier to Castle Rock meet every Wednesday evening to conduct the official business of the Longview, Kelso & Rainier Model Railroad Club. Just like any other railroad, it's known by its acronym - the "L-K-&-R."
Real trains get made up in a real railroad classification yard, where real locomotives are serviced at a real engine shop. But, its all in "H-O" Gauge; which means one scale inch equals 87 real life inches.
The model railroad will be among many in operation this weekend in the Triangle Mall.
Kerry King of Castle Rock is the current president of the railroad club that was co-founded by Cliff West of Rainier on April 1, 1985. Don Stanton and Jim Davis were also founders, but have since moved away.
"Most of us developed our interest as kids when we had toy trains," says West, "or pursued a hobby of modeling and building."
Membership in the club represents a wide range of careers. Both West and King are truck drivers. Another member is an electrical power plant engineer, and another is an installer of electronic equipment at a Portland marina.
It isn't all men. Bev Gardner, an office secretary, got involved after her son, Troy, a 16-year-old high school Huntington Junior High student, became a member.
"My husband would also like to join," she said, "but his work schedule keeps him from the Wednesday meetings." Troy's railroad enthusiasm has led him to pursuing a career as a locomotive engineer.
The club meets in a small creekside barn at the rear of John Plant acreage on Coal Creek Road. Plant is retired and centers his hobby interests in building exquisite operating models of steam-powered logging locomotives.
"We just wanted a 'Smalltown' USA."
model club member
Club members work on the organization's modular layout following their business meeting. The L-K-&-R and its realistic scenery is mounted on interconnecting 3-foot-wide tables that form a rectangle approximately 14 feet square. The construction enables the club to display the operations at six to eight shows each year.
Two new 6-foot sections are under construction for the layout, which won't be ready until later in the year.
Each member is responsible for building and maintaining their own locomotives and rolling stock which are operated on the railroad. Work on the layout ranges from track laying and repair, to scenery construction, wiring and design.
Detailed replicas of a dispatcher's tower and a locomotive servicing facility are part of the Kelso-Longview & Rainier Model Railroad Club layout. The H-O scale system will be operating Saturday and Sunday at Triangle Mall. Photo by Dick Sybert
"It took about 100 hours to complete the sawmill," said King. "Cliff and I did it together; some of it is 'scratch-built' while some of it came from a kit." The mill is one of many scenic highlights on the system. It includes a log intake area, a saw shed, a mountain log train and a lumber storage dock where cut lumber is shipped out.
West and King also collaborated on the layout's village. It includes houses, stores, a hotel, filling station and church with graveyard. "We just wanted a 'Smalltown' USA," West said. "Smalltown" includes a Rambo's Hobby Shop.
In addition, there are several mountain ranges which had to be tunneled through for the railroad. There's also a clear cut logging operation on one of the hillsides, complete with two loggers cutting down a Doug fir.
"Jeff Dunbar and Al Belanger do most of the wiring and electronic design," King said. Some members wives, such as Rene Stanton, also get involved in the finishing of the life-like scenes.
This weekend's model railroad show at the Triangle Mall is expected to present modular and club layouts from the general region. The train displays, large and small, will be set up both Saturday and Sunday, February 15 and 16.
Longview, Kelso & Rainier Model Railroad Club